Many workplaces are inherently dangerous and those that work in these places
are aware of the risks each day when they report to their positions. However,
some workplaces do not seem quite so dangerous. For example, a hospital
that treats mental health patients does not seem like a place of employment
that would be facing OSHA fines for lack of safety, yet this very situation
is currently happening in Pennsylvania.
A western Pennsylvania hospital, near Kittanning, is facing an $8,000 fine
assessed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA believes
that the hospital employees are at risk of being
injured at work by patients of the hospital. The hospital disagrees with OSHA's claims.
The facility claims that since its mental health unit is not a forensic
psychiatry unit, it does not need to follow the stricter safety protocol
that has been outlined by OSHA. The hospital has 15 days to dispute the
fine with OSHA.
According to Pennsylvania law, employers are required to take steps to
ensure the safety of their employees while the employees are carrying
out their job duties. In addition, most employers are required to carry
workers' compensation insurance, which covers medical expenses and
lost wages if an employee is injured on the job.
OSHA is constantly inspecting places of employment to ensure they are following
the appropriate safety standards. If the inspection reveals that the employer
is not taking the necessary steps to ensure all employees are kept safe,
the employer may face a fine.
This situation shows that it is very important for employers to understand
which rules and regulations apply to them and then follow them to avoid
penalties. It is very important that employers are doing what is necessary
to keep their employees safe and, if they do not, that they pay the appropriate price.
Source: Anchorage Daily News, "OSHA: W. Pa. hospital workers at-risk for assaults,"
July 16, 2013